FARMINGTON – Martha Wasgatt believes it was all the gardening and digging in the dirt that kept her going these past 100 years.

“I didn’t stop doing it until 2 years ago,” Wasgatt said. “I always had a garden except for in New York … I think that is one of my reasons.”

Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis and Board of Selectmen Chairman Stephan Bunker presented Wasgatt with the town’s replica of the Boston Post Cane honoring her as the town’s oldest citizen on Monday at The Pierce House, where she has lived since 2003.

During the ceremony, Wasgatt, who was born Dec. 24, 1908, sat in a chair in the corner of a sitting room with friends and well-wishers looking on.

Like Wasgatt, the tradition of awarding the Boston Post Cane to the town’s oldest citizen is 100-years-old this year, Bunker said. Farmington has its original cane encased and on display at the town office, and presents a replica to the oldest citizen.

“It’s beautiful. It’s heavy,” Wasgatt said as she took the gold-topped cane from Davis.

Wasgatt said she heard about people being awarded the cane when she was younger; and one of her good friends, Marguerite VanTassel was the last to hold it in Farmington. She died in April at the age of 103.

Wasgatt lived in Rockland in her early years, and graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1931. She went on to earn a graduate degree in home economics from Columbia University in New York City.

She taught for 16 years in Pennsylvania before coming to Farmington and joining the staff at Farmington State Teachers College, now known as the University of Maine at Farmington, in 1953.

She retired in 1972 as professor emerita from the department of home economics.

Wasgatt also taught early childhood education at UMF, she said.

“I worked with children. I didn’t have any but I worked with them for a good many years,” she said. “I worked with Head Start.”


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